Titans lose two on the bounce
Taunton were left to rue another poor start and left themselves too much to do.
After a fine start to the season Taunton Titans have been found wanting in the last two weeks and were once again beaten in the first 20 minutes and were playing catch up for the rest of the game. With some great performances in the first couple of months of the season the Titans were well placed but if they continue with this type of form then they won’t be pushing for honours at the end of the season and will be lucky to be a high mid table placed team come the end of April.
The game was full of incidents with 13 tries, 7 yellows and 1 red card and with 7 out of the 8 cards put down as foul play you would expect a fractious, volatile game but the game was played in a great spirit with the only thing that was fractious was the Titans defence.
Taunton wanted to bounce back after last week’s defeat but found themselves under the posts in the first minute as London Irish Wild Geese scored on their 1st attack through full back George Owen, with fly half Alex Seers converting. With the Titans defence and discipline once again one of the issues on Wild Geese 2nd attacked they scored once again this time through winger Chris Hitchcock with Seers adding the extras.
Irish added one more converted try within the first 10 minutes again touched down by Owen and converted by Seers. With a 21 point lead Irish then joined in the spirit of the game with some sloppy defence and allowed Taunton on the score board from a lineout drive which flanker Dan Frost scored with the conversion kicked by Gary Kingdom. The Titans then closed the gap to one score when Aron Struminski intercepted on his own 10 meter line and raced away to dive over with Kingdom kicking the extras.
London Irish claimed their bonus point try on the 20 minute mark through prop Charlie Connor who was at the back of the driving maul before the Geese added another 5 minutes later through scrum half Tom Barker who exploited the gap left by Dan Frost who had been sent to the sin bin for persistent infringement. Both of those tries were converted by Seer to give the home side an unassailable lead 35 – 14. Taunton tried to use the forwards to gain some in roads when they were back to their full complement and Irish reduced to 14 which they did and were rewarded with a penalty try after a maul was collapsed on its way to the line. As most of the half belonged to the Geese it was only fitting that they finished as they started with a try, this one for flanker Tyler Bush just after Titans number 8 Sam Prior took a 10 minute rest on the stroke of half time for a 40 – 21 lead.
The Titans needed to score first if they were going to make inroads to the Irish lead and were close in the first minute as Struminski was felled just short of the line. The visitors kept the pressure on their hosts and Captain Nick Mason went over for the Titans bonus point try. Again Taunton were their own worse enemy when straight from the kick off Irish scored through winger Reon Joseph who was allowed to pluck the kick off out of the air and raced down the line to score.
Like tag team wrestling just as Sam Prior returned to the pitch centre Tom Popham exited but luckily Irish couldn’t take any further advantage. In the next 10 minutes London Irish were reduced to 13 with 2 yellows. At this point the home side were starting to flag and the Titans started to come back into the game with a try for Lewis Webb followed by Jamie Fleming with a conversion by Toby East to reduce the deficit to just 7 points. When the Geese were forced down to 14 permanently with 6 minutes to go the Titans could sense a great escape but for the second week in a row fell short and squandered their chance. With a lineout 5 meters out they tried to drive it over but, and this summed up the day, the call was misread and no one jumped and a knock on was given and the final whistle blown.
There is a break in the league fixtures next weekend for the Titans before they take on 4th placed Redingensians at Commsplus Stadium the following Saturday. With the Warriors who haven’t lost so far this season playing against Bournemouth next Saturday at home there are plenty of players who will be looking to claim a Titans shirt after two successive defeats.